Portugal’s Golden Visa program is one of the most popular residence by investment programs in Europe and in the world. The program started in October 2012 and since then almost ten thousand families have received their Golden Visas.
What is the Portugal Golden Visa?
The Portugal Golden Visa program, also known as the residence permit for investment activity (ARI), is a residency by investment scheme designed for non-EU citizens.
Portugal launched the program in October 2012. The main objective was to attract international capital into the country, as it was much in need after the 2008 economic crisis. The program proved to be a great success, raising €5,5 billion in a little over eight years.
Portugal offers a dreamy landscape, a wide coastline, a climate full of sunshine, hospitable people, and delicious cuisine. Better yet, it provides this high quality of life at a very affordable cost of living. These features make Portugal a very attractive destination for international investors to invest in and obtain the right to live, work, and study in the country.
Furthermore, the Portugal Golden Visa program provides the opportunity to become a permanent resident or a citizen in Portugal in only five years.
Benefits: What Are the Benefits of the Portugal Golden Visa?
- You can qualify for residency by investing €280,000 which is one of the lowest investment thresholds in Europe,
- You don’t have to move to Portugal to keep your residence permit. Staying in the country for seven days on average per year will suffice,
- You can be eligible to apply for Portuguese citizenship in five years. This is one of the quickest in Europe,
- Once you become a Portuguese citizen, you get visa-free access to 188 countries.
Travel And Visa- Free Countries
The Golden Visa permit registers you in the Schengen Area central system. So, you can freely travel within Europe without an additional visa.
At the end of five years, if you decide to get Portuguese citizenship, you can get a Portuguese passport. The Portuguese passport allows you to travel to 188 countries without the need for a visa and ranks 6th among all passports, as of 2021.
Living, Working, and Studying
The Portuguese Golden Visa allows you to live, work, and study in Portugal.
If you decide to live in Portugal full-time with this permit, then you will be required to have medical insurance. You will, however, have full access to all public services including healthcare and education.
State schools follow the Portuguese curriculum, though there are numerous private British and American international schools.
The work permit allows you to work anywhere, as well as start and run your own business in Portugal.
As the main applicant, you may extend the Golden Visa to your family members. The application process is simultaneous for the main applicant and the dependents.
Following members of the family are eligible to apply along with the main applicant:
- Children under the age of 18,
- Dependent children under the age of 26, provided that they are full-time students and not married,
- Parents of the main applicant, if over the age of 65 years old.
Citizenship and Passport
You may apply for citizenship after five years of holding a Golden Visa in Portugal.
In order to qualify for citizenship, you must have:
- No outstanding tax payments in Portugal,
- Clean criminal records from Portugal and from your home country,
- Entered and passed a basic language test in Portuguese.
Later in the article, we will touch on the specifics of the Portuguese language test.
The Golden Visa program will not bring any tax responsibility to you unless you spend more than 183 days of the year in Portugal. In case you do, then you become a tax resident in Portugal.
Portugal has a favorable tax regime for foreigners who consider relocating to Portugal and become tax residents. Through the non-habitual residency (NHR) program, the country offers certain exemptions from income tax for the first ten years of residence. The program slightly changed in 2020, exempting foreign pensioners from getting tax breaks on their pension income.
As a Golden Visa applicant, you have the right to live and work in Portugal, but there is no requirement to do so. The country offers a favorable tax regime if you decide to relocate to Portugal. With your Golden Visa, you can enjoy free travel within the European Schengen visa zone. After holding a Golden Visa for five years, you can apply for citizenship or permanent residency in Portugal, leading to a passport. The Portuguese passport allows you to live, work, study anywhere within the European Union.
Eligibility: Who Is Eligible for a Golden Visa in Portugal?
Any non-EU/EEA/Swiss national can apply for the Portugal Golden Visa.
You’re required to be at least 18 years old and hold a clean criminal record from your home country, as well as from Portugal. The funds for the investment should arrive from outside of Portugal.
Golden Visa Minimum Investment
In order to qualify for the program, a qualifying investment has to be made. Investment categories include real estate, venture capital fund, transfer of capital, company formation, and donation. Later on in this guide, you can find a list of qualifying investments.
Under family reunification, you may extend the Golden Visa to the rest of the family members. A comprehensive list of eligible dependents is listed in the previous section.
American Applicants to the Portugal Golden Visa
US citizens are eligible to apply for the Portuguese Golden Visa. Foreign-owned real estate has many advantages for tax residents of the United States, making the real estate investment option of the program especially interesting.
American business owners may also choose to expand their businesses to Portugal, taking advantage of the Golden Visa program. The tax incentives in Portugal make it an attractive destination to relocate to.
British investors in the UK and around the world are planning for the repercussions of Brexit in terms of their travel abilities. As of the beginning of 2021, UK passports lost their freedom of movement in the Schengen Area. UK citizens target Portugal for three reasons: travel rights across Europe, a desirable lifestyle, and ultimately European citizenship by investment.
As of January 1st, 2021, UK citizens are now eligible to apply for Portugal’s Golden Visa program. This provides them with the right to travel within the Schengen Area.
Portugal Golden Visa Investment Options: What Types Of Investments Qualify For The Golden Visa
Portugal Golden Visa program offers different investment options.
Real Estate Acquisition
Acquire real estate worth more than €500,000 in Portugal,
→If in a low-density area in Portugal, the minimum amount drops 20 percent to €400,000
Acquire real estate that is older than 30 years old, in an urban rehabilitation area, and renovate it for a minimum of €350,000 in Portugal.
→If in a low-density area in Portugal, the minimum amount drops 20 percent to €280,000
The real estate acquisition does not need to pertain to one property necessarily. As long as the minimum amount is met in total, the transaction may include the purchase of multiple properties.
Conversely, if multiple applicants are purchasing one property of a larger purchase amount, they may also combine their investments. This means that if two siblings purchase real estate worth €1 million, they may each apply for the Portugal Golden Visa, as they each spend €500,000 in total.
Capital transfer of a minimum of €1 million to Portugal.
A minimum of €350,000 subscription in a qualifying Portuguese fund.
Creation of a minimum of ten new full-time jobs in a Portuguese business that is owned by yourself as the main applicant.
→Create a minimum of eight new full-time jobs in a Portuguese business formed in a low-density area in Portugal, owned by the main applicant.
Invest a minimum of €350,000 in an existing Portuguese business, where the incorporated business must create a minimum of five new full-time jobs for at least three years.
Invest a minimum of €250,000 in preserving national heritage in Portugal.
Invest a minimum of €350,000 in a research and development activity in Portugal.
Are Loans Allowed For The Golden Visa Investment In Portugal?
A common question is if you can use a loan or a mortgage in making your Golden Visa investment in Portugal. Portugal expects you to bring in the minimum required amount from outside of Portugal into the country. So the minimum amount cannot be taken out as a loan from a Portuguese financial institution.
However, you can take the amount as a loan from a non-Portuguese financial institution and then bring it into Portugal. Additionally, if your investment exceeds the minimum amount, there is nothing stopping you from taking a loan for the exceeding amount from a Portuguese bank.